NHL Fantasy Hockey: Goalie Pick-Ups and Fillers
Depending on who hosts your fantasy hockey league, goalies can account for at least one-third to one half of your total points. Yet every year I witness team after team focusing on goal scorers and ignoring the net minders.
Goalie situations in the NHL are in constant flux. Therefore, as fantasy sports are predicated on real life, you too must remain fluid.
Below is a short list of goaltenders that will—at least for the time being—take you one step closer to a championship.
Jonathan Quick Los Angeles Kings
The Kings are rapidly establishing themselves as not only an offensive juggernaut but also as a new force to be reckoned with in the Western Conference. With a seemingly unstoppable power play, Los Angeles looks to continue this tear, astounding preseason pundits and fantasy owners alike.
Net minder Jonathan Quick has been the beneficiary of the upstart L.A. offense. While his defensive numbers will keep him from being an elite option, owners seeking an early source of wins need to look no further than Quick.
Ondrej Pavelec Atlanta Thrashers
As Keri Lehtonen continues to recuperate from back surgery, the Thrashers were forced to decide between veteran Johan Hedberg and the inexperienced Pavelec as their opening day goaltender.
Ultimately Atlanta went with Pavelec.
Starting in only 16 games over the past two seasons, Ondrej has been impressive with his ability to repel the puck. Coupled with a defense which has allowed the fifth fewest shots on goal, the young Czech has become a second fantasy goalie sleeper candidate.
In his first three starts, Pavelec has responded to the promotion by going 2-1-0, while putting up respectable numbers (3.01 GAA, .913 SV%).
Ondrej is definitely worth a flier if paired alongside a top tier fantasy goalie.
Ilya Bryzgalov Phoenix Coyotes
Many teams have begun the season without a number one net minder. Teams such as the Predators, the Ducks, and the Capitals are waiting to see which of their goalies emerges as the No. 1.
In Phoenix, however, no such situation exists. Bryzgalov is undoubtedly the clear cut choice to man the crease for the Coyotes.
Since not much is expected from Phoenix in 2009-10, Bryz flew under many pre-season radars. Now he looks like a draft day steal.
In Bryzgalov's second start of the young season, he delivered a 24-shot shut out against the defending Stanley Cup champions, the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Russian born goalie has won three of his four starts posting a 0.98 GAA with a .960 save percentage. Ilya's sizzling takeoff has caused his ownership numbers to skyrocket, but he is not yet universally owned.
Act now before it is too late for a 60-start/30-win season now appears to be the floor rather than the ceiling.
Jonas Gustavsson Toronto Maple Leafs
To the dismay of Toronto fans, Maple Leaf goalie Vesa Toskala has continued to be the easily beatable version of himself which was all too prevalent last year.
As an insurance policy in case of this exact scenario, the Toronto front office acquired in the off-season the Swedish goaltending phenom Jonas Gustavsson.
Unfortunately for the Leafs, the "Monster" has already succumbed to a groin injury, resulting in an early IR stint.
As any fantasy participant who owned Roberto Luongo last season will attest, such injuries can be devastating to goalies. Playing between the pipes requires a side to side mobility absolutely hindered by a tight groin.
Toronto trainers have predicted Gustavsson will only miss one week, but expect the Leafs to gingerly bring back the future face of their franchise.
If you are a gambler with an open IR slot on your roster, Jonas is an investment which will pay off second half dividends.
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